Leo Brown, Agency Chaplain and Volunteer Coordinator
Faith has been an important part of Corrections since the very first prisons were established in this country. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections does not endorse one religious belief over another nor does it endorse religion over non-religion. However, the department has always supported the work of religious groups in our facilities. Today the types of services religious volunteers provide are so diverse that we try to use some consistent definitions to describe their activities:
Religious Services - we use this term to describe religious meetings that are primarily worship or religious education, such as bible studies.
Faith-Based Programs - refers to programs offered by volunteers which address specific criminogenic issues such as cognitive behavior skills, family relationships or substance abuse from a faith prospective.
Religious Services at most of the facilities in Oklahoma Department of Corrections and the Private Prisons which house Oklahoma inmates are numerous and diverse. The vast majority of our volunteers are Religious volunteers and most of them serve by providing opportunities for worship, religious education and spiritual growth. The only locations where religious services are more limited are those where security restrictions limit the number of inmates that can gather together at one time or where the facility has limited space to accommodate the services
These services provide important opportunities for the inmate:
There has been increasing interest in Faith-Based Programs in recent years. This is due, at least in part, to the emphasis placed on Faith-Based initiatives at the federal level and to a growing recognition of the effectiveness many of these programs have demonstrated.
Faith-Based Programs are primarily developed by volunteers from the faith community. Normally, a faith group will bring a program proposal to the department. It is evaluated based on the programmatic content and needs of the inmate population. Once approved, the program is offered according to the space and time available at specific facilities.
Occasionally, when the department identifies a programmatic need, the department has recruited volunteers and provided them with training & materials to offer a Faith-Based Program. An example of this is Homes of Honor. The ODOC provided materials for this video program to be offered at each facility and the facilities recruited volunteers to facilitate the class.
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC) is committed to a positive partnership between the agency and its volunteers. This partnership is an essential part of achieving the department’s mission. Volunteer involvement provides additional resources, enhances inmate programs & services, plays an important role in reentry efforts and creates opportunities for a greater public understanding of the challenges of corrections.
Volunteers may perform in any area of agency operation where needs are identified, the volunteer is trained, certified or licensed to perform the duty, and the necessary accountability and resources are available. The department appreciates the tremendous contributions made by thousands of volunteers each month in various settings, including:
The types of volunteer services provided are various as well including:
How do I become a Volunteer?